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Friesen stands out among the pack

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    In Modified action at Albany-Saratoga Speedway over the weekend, Stewart Friesen (44) and Kenny Tremont (115) compete.
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    In Modified action, JR Heffner (74) and Denny Soltis (1x) race at Lebanon Valley Speedway over the weekend.
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    Jason Herrington (1), Ray Hall Jr. (72) and Demetrios Drellos (111) compete in Smallblock Modified action at Lebanon Valley Speedway.
July 17, 2017 - 01:54 pm

Throughout the years at the Fonda Speedway there have been many great drivers.

In those early years there were names such as Lou Lazzaro, Pete Corey, Kenny Shoemaker, Bill Wimble, Steve Danish, and a host of others who gave Fonda its name as the Track of Champions.

These drivers could go anywhere and win no matter if it was dirt or asphalt.

Then you had the likes of Jack Johnson, Dave Lape, CD Coville, Harry Peek, the racing Dalmata brothers of Ray and Larry and, yes, Louie was still turning a wheel left in the maroon No. 4 as the young Romano brothers of Mike and AJ were turning some heads.

This bunch of drivers could also hit any track and could be considered for the win.

Then, in recent years, we have had Dave Camera, Bobby Varin, Jeff Trombley, Matt DeLorenzo, Alton Palmer and a young Ronnie Johnson learning skills that would bring him to championships at the track where his dad has done it all.

There have been drivers like Pat Ward and Billy Decker who have started at Fonda and moved to Central New York to be champions. Now, we have another who can be added to the list — Stewart Friesen.

Right now at Fonda Speedway there is no one who is as good as Friesen. No matter where he starts, or if he brings the TEO or the DKM Chassis, the man plain and simple has become a dominating force like we have not seen since Louie and Jack.

Since becoming a track regular, Friesen has found something that works at the famed old speedway, no matter if it is running the top like he did Saturday night or having to shoot low out of turns 2 and 4, the man can drive.

Oh, and by the way, he is like all those others that have come before him — he is a threat no matter where he goes.

In six seasons at Fonda he has racked up 45 wins, including Saturday night, and four straight Championships from 2012-15.

If it was the Tadd Parks ride, or now the Halmar machine, the name Stewart Friesen is a force behind the wheel of a modified. He has four wins at the Moody Mile for Super DIRT Week along with the win in last year’s maiden voyage to Oswego, big victories all along the Super DIRTcar Series, Brett Deyo’s Short Track Series, wins in Sprint Cars including beating the World of Outlaws at their own game — and that race fans is a task all in itself.

Now, Halmar Friesen Racing has taken on a new challenge for 2017 as they are competing on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with some great runs and some disappointing finishes.

For The Canadian Sensation, Mr. Freeze, or plain Stewie — no matter what you call him — if there is a race in the Northeast the 44 will be there and don’t be surprised to see him up front. He is exciting to watch, great for the sport as so many before him, but one thing is clear, Friesen is the ultimate professional at what he does and winning races is what he likes to do.

Saturday night it was all Friesen as he picked up his fourth win of the season at Fonda Speedway and his 45th of his career at The Track of Champions. He now sits just three wins behind Mike Romano for seventh on the all-time win list.

The track was smooth and fast with both a top groove as well as a bottom and they sure were using the entire speedway. For Friesen, he was high and wide and putting on a show.

At the drop of the green it was Pep Corradi grabbing the lead with Jeremy Wilder all over his rear bumper in the early going.

Lap after lap the leaders raced hard, but it was Friesen who was on the move and coming to the front quickly in the Erik Mack prepared DKM Chassis machine after starting 11th.

It did not take long for Friesen to make his way to the Top 3 and the charge was on as Corradi and Wilder had opened up on the field.

Back in the pack Bobby Varin, last week’s winner, was working his way to the front in the Palmer 76 machine as was Tim Fuller, who struggled in heat race action earlier in the night.

Using the high side to perfection, Friesen went from third to first going down the back stretch and into turn 3. It was now Wilder who moved up a grove as he was the new second-place car with Varin sitting in the top 5 a young Mike Mareska starting to show he is finding his grove at Fonda.

Out front it was all Friesen rim-riding the top as Varin worked his way past Wilder and Corradi to take over second.

There was no catching Friesen as he cruised to the win over Varin, Fuller, Hohenforst and Wilder rounding out the top 5.

After blowing the motor in the Greg’s towing 173 Sportsman car at Lebanon Valley KOD Sportsman Series, Cody Bleau headed to Fonda and climbed aboard the Pangman 34 machine, making a last-lap pass on Ronnie Johnson to finish a fine eighth in only his fourth Modified start.

Friday night at Albany-Saratoga it was Don Ronca picking up his first win since 2009 in the 50-lap event, out-running Friesen, who started 28th in the stout field. Rounding out the top 5 was Jesse Mueller, point-leader Peter Britten and Bodie Bellinger. Other winners were Scott Duell getting the 50-lap Sportsman win with Chuck Dumblewski getting the 50 Pro Stock win.

At Lebanon Valley, it was Kyle Sheldon getting the win over Keith Flach, Kolby Schroder, Brett Hearn and Brian Berger, who rounded out the top 5. Other winners on the night were Pete Carlotto in the Small Blocks, Jeff Watson in the KOD Sportsman and Jon Routhier in the Pro Stocks.

Well, the meeting about Albany-Saratoga went really well for the track and not-so-well for those who have complained. The Great Race Place has been a big part of the local community and many local residents spoke in favor of the Speedway that brings so much to the Malta area. More than 100 people were on hand for the meeting, so racing is alive and well at the Great Race Place for now and the future.